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  • Writer's pictureLucas Del Rosario

Album Love Letter: Alvvays' Antisocialites

A sweet and dreamy capsule of odes to failed relationships.

Alvvays performing at Treefort Music Fest 2017

The sound of Alvvays (pronounced “always”) is one that seems so hard to dislike. I could gush about the Canadian indie pop band’s entire discography, but it’s their 2017 album Antisocialites, with its brand of hopelessly romantic jangly dream pop, that has a really special place in my heart. It was one of the albums that really got me into music more than I ever had before. And with a runtime of just 32 minutes, it’s an incredibly breezy listen if you have some time to kill. The songwriting duo of guitarist Alec O’Hanley and frontwoman Molly Rankin create songs about longing, regret, and heartache that also just happen to be really catchy tunes. This is pop music that I cannot seem to get tired of—the kind of music the protagonist of a coming-of-age movie would listen to while riding around aimlessly on a bike. I won’t try to convince you that Antisocialites is groundbreaking music, but I do think that it is indie pop executed pretty much perfectly. I will talk about all ten tracks in order because they flow so well.

The album kicks off with “In Undertow,” an atmospheric, shoegaze-y breakup anthem and my most listened-to song on Spotify in 2022. I love the way the rough and jagged guitars underlay Rankin’s foamy vocals. The music video definitely helps sell the fuzzy, hazy vibe, with lots of visual distortion and images fading in and out. The song structure is untouchable, best shown in a moment where the guitar solo flows seamlessly into the third verse. It’s also a great introduction to the album’s clever, witty lyricism: “You find a wave and try to hold on for as long as you can / You made a mistake you'd like to erase and I understand.” Being the terribly regretful person I am, the chorus repeating “There's no turning back, no turning back” hits pretty hard. This is one of my favorite songs ever, and I don’t think I will ever get tired of it.

The album starts off with an insane one-two punch, following that with the endlessly entrancing “Dreams Tonite.” Continuing with the theme of musing about bygone relationships, Molly sings, “Who starts a fire just to let it go out? … // … Who builds a wall just to let it fall down?” And then there’s the chorus, which will dwell in my head as long as I’m alive: “If I saw you on the street, would I have you in my dreams tonight?” How terrible it is to look at someone and wonder what could have been. Wondering what your lives would be like if things had shaken out slightly differently. The music video for this song is also fantastic, featuring the band inserted into archival footage of a 1960s World’s Fair in Montreal. It’s a tidal wave of pastel colors, making me nostalgic for a time I wasn’t even alive in.

The album quickly accelerates with the jagged and fun “Plimsoll Punks.” The song is a bit more scornful than the others, directed at someone who is getting Molly “down, down, down.” Following that is “Your Type,” which has so many clever lyrics that get me every time I listen. This song took a little while to grow on me, but now I think it’s just so much fun. Antisocialites continues to supply perfect pop songs like “Not My Baby,” which depicts someone being freed from a relationship: “I feel alive for the first time since I don’t know how long.” There’s a lot to like here if you enjoy mentally dissing your ex. This song is stripped back more than the others, but it works really well.

Another fun one is the fervid “Hey,” further shedding light on how bad Molly’s past relationships were, with lines like “Should we pull the parachute?” and “It feels like forever since you held me like I was a human being.” The song portrays a relationship like a boxing match, with blows coming from both sides. And it’s got a sick-ass guitar solo—whippy and almost western-y. Then there’s “Lollipop (Ode to Jim),” which is, as the name suggests, sugary and high-strung. I keep saying this, but I truly believe this is pop music at its highest form. Of course, the song isn’t complete without some weird and borderline nonsensical lyrics: “You're a lollipop / In the form of a lightning bolt / You're a lollipop in my hair.”

“Already Gone” is a change of pace, showing Molly at her most vulnerable. Here, she laments the loss of a loved one, baring the chasm left behind: “Appetite minuscule / Middle of the night / Drain the pool / The summer's over.” She’s learning to live, knowing there was a whole future with this person who has now been stripped away. The punchy and energetic “Saved By A Waif” immediately follows that, bringing us sharp lyrics like “You cut your hair / Now you look like a little boy.” I do feel a little called out when Molly says, “Said you wanted to get it together, but you don’t / Said you wanted to get it together but you won’t.” Finally, the album closes with “Forget About Life,” which is something that I’d like to do sometimes. Molly extends an invitation here: “Did you want to forget about life? Did you want to forget about life with me tonight?” It’s a wistful ending to an incredible album.

Antisocialites is abound with stellar songwriting, never lacking in heart or wit. This album represents a lot for me. Holding onto the past but also wanting something new. Learning to deal with love that oscillates between euphoric and crushing. It’s equal parts lovesick and playful. The atmosphere makes listening feel like viewing a memory through a thick fog. Antisocialites helped me realize that there is so much good music out there, new and old, waiting to be listened to. It’s delicious. Listen to it.

If you think this article sucked, just forget I ever said anything.

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